Final Thoughts on #MI621

When you talk so much about a topic as new and rapidly-developing as social media, the most exciting things are not necessarily the technologies that already exist, but rather the possibilities in the next few years.  And the two areas that struck me as having the most possibility over the course of the semester were crowd sourcing and location based services.

Crowd sourcing is so compelling because it makes full use of the hyper-connectivity that the internet has always provided.  Projects that would have been impossible 20 years ago can be accomplished with speed, accuracy, and at relatively low cost (sometimes none!)  It speaks volumes that people are willing to put so much effort into crowd sourced projects for no pay, for example Wikipedia authors, or the people who jumped at a chance to make Super Bowl commercials for Doritos.  These projects both serve a need, and serve people’s desire to just be heard, or to be validated, or share what they’re capable of.  It’s really a very powerful phenomenon that has only recently become possible, and I think it has potential to do great things in the near future.

Location based services are quickly finding their way into almost everything we do with our mobile devices.  It’s hard to find an app that doesn’t somehow use your location, or at least ask to.  Many people find this a little creepy, and that’s understandable, but as long as privacy standards remain clear, user-friendly, and responsible, this is another area that has huge potential.  Need a place to eat, a train station, or a police station?  Just search.  Can’t find your friend in a crowded city?  Drop a pin in the map and text it over.  And these are just the most basic location-based services.  Pretty soon you’ll be able to walk down Newbury St. and receive all the best deals on your phone from each store as you pass by.  Find that annoying?  Turn it off (there’s the user-friendly part).  There are also implications for safety that are just being realized with “Find my Phone,” “Find my Friends,” and other GPS tracking technologies.  If I could tell you where this was going next I’d be in another line of work, but I’m sure this will soon find its way into parts of our lives that we haven’t even thought of.

Now if they could just do something about the battery life...

The first thing that comes to mind when I reflect on my own use of social media for the class was a mistake that I made.  Fortunately, like most mistakes, it taught me something.  When we were assigned our Twitter responsibilities for the semester I already had a Twitter account, but I decided to create a second account specifically for #MI621.  This was mainly because I didn’t think anyone in the class would care to hear me whining about soccer games, or doing my second-rate internet comedian routine.  In my head, home was home and class was class, and ne’er the twain shall meet.  The effect of this, however (besides being a pain logistically) was that each account was missing something.

I wrote about this in an earlier blog as it pertains to brands on Twitter.  My advice to them was to give us a conversation like you’re a real person.  Your whole personality is what makes you unique and distinguishes you from other brands.  As it turns out I wasn’t taking my own advice.  In building my own social media brand, I had split myself into two people: Class Ryan (@BCRyanD) and Home Ryan (@RDerosha).  Each reasonably decent guys, but not all that compelling.  If you’re a social media commentator on Twitter, you’re one of millions.  If you’re an angry Liverpool fan, there are even more of those.  But if you’re a social media commentator who’s an angry Liverpool fan, DC job hunting, fan of medieval European history, you’re unique.  I’ve learned that complete personalities are what’s compelling on social media (why would it be different than real life?) and if I had to do it all over again, that’s one thing I would change.

Now which one is the evil twin?

Another theme that came up repeatedly in my head over the course of the semester is social media as a litmus test in the real world.  We talked quite a bit about the recent incidents of hiring managers asking for people’s Facebook passwords, and we pretty much universally agreed that it’s wrong.  But I do think that current bosses, potential employers, and the outside world in general are all within their rights to judge you based on what social media activity you choose to make public.  If you’re smart enough to make your Facebook information private it says something about you and the choices you make, and the reverse is also true.  I’m an avid Twitter user as well, but after this class I’ve been hesitant about making that public as well (I’ve gone back and forth almost weekly).  And I don’t say anything on Twitter that’s remotely inappropriate, I just think that the discussions in this class have made me a bit more thoughtful about what I put out there, and that’s a good thing.  It’s a personal decision for everyone about how they want to present themselves.

With all of the thinking and reflection done, I’d just like to finish by saying how much I enjoyed the class.  You definitely get some comments when you tell people that you’re taking a “Social Media for Managers class, but I’ve found it to be worthwhile, and something that should be offered in more business programs.  For Marketing majors, it should be required.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Final Thoughts on #MI621

  1. Unlike you I did not create a new twitter account for class but kept the one I had started last year. I never used it that much besides when I was abroad to tweet where I was for the sake of my friends and family at home but I am glad that I have used only one twitter handle for class because it has helped me not only tweet more about class but also about personal everyday things. Though most people in class might not appreciate my day to day #BCproblems or #whitegirlproblems that I tweet about I like to think that our class became good friends throughout the semester and that we will want to stay in contact after the semester is over. I wrote about the class becoming friends briefly in my last #blog post this week but I think its one of the best things to come out of the class. Not only did we learn about social media through readings and presentations but through personal contacts and connections that will withstand the end of the year and will keep everyone connected in the years to come!

  2. One fascinating issue you mentioned is crowd sourcing and the nature of Wikipedia. Like Amazon reviewers and a lot of YouTube uploaders, I agree that it comes down to people wanting to be heard and their efforts acknowledged. The good that comes from it is immeasurable.

    As for Twitter accounts I did the same. While I didn’t use my personal account as much I still found my class one sounding quite monotone. Recently I disregarded the other and only use my class one. It comes back to everyone’s individual voice online and the desire to be unique in this immense space. If this course was mandatory it would be very interesting to see the individual personas.

  3. Great post, Ryan. I agree with your thoughts on crowd sourcing. I find it astounding how many people are willing to work for nothing just to get their opinion or information across. Wikipedia is a great example. Like we discussed in class, the writers and editors do what they do because they are passionate about it opposed to any type of financial benefits. They don’t even want or need the personal recognition since you would have to search the site to find the author and most people don’t.

    Your Twitter regret is another story. I did the same thing as you when class started. I’ve had Twitter for over a year now but I decided to make a new one for class. My regular account is private so I don’t regret this decision. I feel like I have different things to say over my private Twitter that anyone from class wouldn’t necessarily care about. Though I agree on your point that combining yours would have made you more unique, I’m fine being a boring, split personality, double Twitter user.

  4. megfrazier

    First off, I always wonder why battery life cannot be improved on these phones. My old cell phone lasted 3 days without a charge, at this point my 1.5 year old droid won’t even last the full day if I am futzing around on it too much!

    Second, I hear where you are coming from about wanting to make yourself a real person on your class twitter handle. In my post I did talk about controlling my virtual self by having different purposes on my various log ins. There may be a point where I reconsider marrying the two. I think one of the things Twitter would need to do first, is make it easier for me to filter the feeds. I know there are lists, but I find that they can be quite cumbersome and I also hate that the people I chose get notified. So until that changes, I think I will continue to keep my tech friendly self here with @YesIamMeg (with the hope of adding some colorful commentary between posts) and my fashion crazed, nacho obsessed, overly snarky self over with @meg_a_wo_man

  5. I knew your post was coming, after reading your comments on an earlier blog (Meg’s maybe?). Anyway, I find it interesting that you conclude that keeping separate profiles was a mistake. As someone with two FB profiles, I appreciate the logistical difficulties faced with separate social identities (actually why I’m surprised G+ isn’t doing better, it seems to solve that problem…maybe its before its time). I do like the use of the hashtag for this purpose. Although anyone is welcome to see anything I write, when I tag something #mi621, I feel like I’m putting on my professor hat. When I tag something #isworld, I’m putting on my researcher hat. Although anyone is welcome to see anything I put online, at least the hashtags provide some indication what audience or role it is intended for. Perhaps I need a #smartass tag as well?

  6. I absolutely agree with your opinion on having a complete personality on Twitter. I was hesitant in the beginning to use my personal Twitter handle for the class, but I decided that I’d challenge myself to be completely appropriate while still having opinionated tweets that reflect my personality and personal beliefs. Reading some of the fellow classmates’ non-class related tweets gives me an idea of what their interests are, and if any of those are shared, I would absolutely value this twitter handle more than the rest. I’ve been trying to become more professional on Facebook as well, especially considering recent hiring practices, but being somewhat of a private page, I haven’t been doing as well.

    The second most agreeable point is the importance of this class. When I tell others that I am taking a course social media related, they usually will give me a chuckle and try to come up with something witty. However, I think that the reason why a lot of people don’t quite see the importance of social media courses is the fact that they don’t understand just how powerful, useful, and lucrative SM can really be. I won’t lie, I had next to little knowledge about SM besides posting hilarious videos. However, I think most people are starting to understand SM is here to stay and is going to be a powerful and necessary tool in every field. This might be the reason why so many are enrolled for this class next year.

  7. Though I didn’t create a separate Twitter account for this course, throughout the semester, I’ve been hyper-attentive to my postings on social media due to our many discussions about using Twitter as a personal branding platform the potential negative consequences of posts on Social Media. That being said, I really think that having two distinct separated twitters with two different personalities is counter-productive to developing your personal brand. By keeping these two entities to your personality distinct, your “branded twitter” becomes no different from all the other branded twitters in the twitterverse; like a pile of resumes (by itself), there’s no differentiation. It is the personal aspects that really sets your personal brand apart from others.

    I think we were all very lucky to take this class. I personally signed up for this class not fully appreciating the importance of social media in both the business and social contexts, and I think that much of the general population feels the same. By the end of the course, I was pleasantly surprised; I’m sure that once social media’s impacts are large enough to not go unnoticed, the general population will do the same.

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